The Kentucky House of Representatives will have its first out LGBTQ+ member following a special election Tuesday.
Keturah Herron, who is Black, queer, and genderqueer, was elected to fill the District 42 seat vacated when Rep. Reginald Meeks retired in December, The Courier-Journal of Louisville reports. Herron, like Meeks a Democrat, beat Republican Judy Martin Stallard by 1,959 votes to 119 in the Louisville-based district. She will be sworn in shortly.
Herron was previously a policy strategist with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky. In that position, she was instrumental in persuading Louisville to ban no-knock warrants after the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor by police in 2020. She also campaigned for a law limiting such warrants across the state, passed by the legislature last year.
"Being a Black queer masculine-presenting woman, this is history. This matters," Herron told TV station WDRB. "This matters for all of those folks who across, not just here in Louisville but across the commonwealth, to know that you are able to do that and you have someone that is going to be able to represent you, not just speak on issues, but someone who knows and understands and who's walked that and so I just look forward to inspiring other folks and open up the doors for other people to be in this space."
Herron will be the only out member of the Kentucky General Assembly. Kentucky has had a gay state senator, Ernesto Scorsone, who came out while in office in 2003. He left the legislature when he was appointed to a judgeship in 2008, and there has been no LGBTQ+ representation in either chamber since then. Herron will also be the third Black woman in the legislature.
She plans to work for voting rights, gun violence prevention, increasing the minimum wage, criminal justice reform, and improving access to education.
Herron was endorsed by the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which works to elect out candidates around the nation. "This is a momentous night for Kentucky, especially for LGBTQ people and Black people who have lived without equitable representation in the state legislature for far too long," Victory Fund President and CEO Annise Parker said in a Tuesday press release. "Keturah is a seasoned community organizer and policy expert. She has the experience -- and political stamina -- to advocate for all Kentuckians and stand up against the deluge of anti-LGBTQ legislation perpetrated by anti-equality lawmakers. Her election is a strong rebuke to this hate."
In the same release, Chris Hartman, executive director of the Kentucky LGBTQ+ group C-FAIR, lauded Herron's election. "We couldn't be more excited about tonight's historic election of Kentucky's first openly LGBTQ state representative, Keturah Herron," he said. "Representative-Elect Herron will fill a nearly 15-year gap in LGBTQ representation in the Kentucky General Assembly, and we need her now more than ever before. With the Kentucky House poised to vote on an anti-trans sports bill in the next several days, Representative-Elect Herron will fight fiercely for transgender kids and all LGBTQ Kentuckians in this critical time."